Shares in Burger King Worldwide Holdings rose as much as 11 per cent in their first day of trading, as the world’s second-biggest fast-food chain made its return to the New York Stock Exchange.
Stock in the chain known for its ‘Whopper’ products debuted at $14.50. It touched a session high of $16.11 before retreating to $15, a gain of 3.4 per cent.
The Miami-based company’s return to the stock market comes less than two years after it was taken private in a $3.26 billion sale to Brazilian investment fund 3G Capital Management and at a time when restaurants are struggling to make gains against fast-food leader McDonald’s Corp.
3G will receive about $1.4 billion in cash under the deal and has retained a roughly 71 per cent stake in the public company.
Justice shareholders and founders own a 13 per cent stake in Burger King, and 16 per cent of the shares are freely trading, Burger King Chief Financial Officer Daniel Schwartz told Reuters.
The restaurant operator on Wednesday closed a “reverse-merger” in which Justice Holdings, a publicly traded shell company co-founded by hedge fund veteran Bill Ackman, absorbed Burger King.
When the transaction was announced in April, Justice said it expected Burger King’s core profits in 2012 to almost double from 2010. “It’s a new company with a much more aggressive strategy, both domestically and internationally,” Schwartz said.
The company, has slashed costs, sold restaurants to franchisees, begun a renovation push and revamped its menu with limited-time options, as well as staples like salads and high-margin drinks like smoothies.
Burger King recently ceded its rank as the second largest US hamburger chain to Wendy’s Co and trails McDonald’s by a wide margin.